Tag Archives: Afghan War

Military service becoming a 2020 issue in POTUS campaign?

Here’s a bet I’m willing to make: If Joe Biden becomes the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nominee, he will not discuss the bone spurs that kept Donald Trump out of military service during the Vietnam War.

Why? It turns out the former vice president has a potentially dubious medical deferment issue of his own. It appears that childhood asthma kept the ex-VP from being drafted into the military during the war. He had a 1-Y deferment, which disqualified him from the draft.

Now, is it more real, more legitimate than the bone spurs that Trump claimed to have while he was getting those multiple deferments back in the old days? I don’t know.

Veterans across the country, though, are looking at the field of Democrats running for their party’s nomination. Of the whole lot of them, we have three vets seeking the presidency: Pete Buttigieg, a Navy reserve officer who served in Afghanistan, Tulsi Gabbard, who served with the Hawaii Army National Guard in Afghanistan as well as in Kuwait and Seth Moulton, a Marine who also saw service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To be honest, this veteran — as in me — hasn’t made military service a determining factor in deciding for whom to vote for president. Heck, I voted for a draft-dodger twice, in 1992 and 1996. Yes, Bill Clinton’s clumsy explanation about not remembering getting a draft notice didn’t go down well with me, nor with other veterans. I feel confident in disclosing that those who did get a draft notice never “forget” that moment.

However, it didn’t deter me from voting for him for president.

Trump’s deferments do seem phony. He also continues to blather about hypotheticals involving that time. He said recently would have been “honored” to serve. Hmm. And this individual who lies about everything at every opportunity no matter its significance expects me to believe that?

I’ll just stand by my wager that Joe Biden damn sure should steer far away from this military service matter if he intends (a) to be nominated by Democrats and (b) then defeat Donald Trump.

The field is full of issues to raise against the president that have nothing to do with bone spurs, the Vietnam War and medical deferments.

Our heroic warriors do not ‘die in vain’

A social media acquaintance of mine tells me that Memorial Day is a holiday he wishes “we didn’t need.”

Amen to that.

I want to offer a point of view, though, that might puzzle some readers of this blog. If it does, I will try my best to explain.

My belief is that service personnel who die in conflicts that are deemed to be “politically unpopular” do not “die in vain.” I hear that kind of criticism leveled at our politicians and, to be candid, it makes my hair stand up; I bristle badly at the accusation.

Yes, this nation has been involved in armed conflict that has sparked ferocious political debate here at home.

In my lifetime, I suppose you could go back to the Korean War, which began just five years after the Japanese surrendered to end World War II, arguably the nation’s last truly righteous war.

The fighting ended in Korea in 1953 but to this very moment, South and North Korea remain in a state of war; they only signed a cease-fire to stop the bloodshed.

Vietnam ratcheted the political debate to new levels, beginning around 1966. The Vietnam War did not end well for this country. We pulled our troops off the battlefield in early 1973, only to watch as North Vietnamese troops stormed into Saigon two years later, capturing the South Vietnamese capital city, renaming it after Ho Chi Minh and sending thousands of enemy sympathizers off to what they called “re-education camps.”

The Persian Gulf War was brief and proved to be successful. Then came 9/11 and we went to war again in Afghanistan and less than two years later in Iraq.

We have lost tens of thousands of young Americans in all those politically volatile conflicts since Korea. Yes, there have been accusations that those warriors “died in vain.”

They did not! They died while answering their nation’s call to duty. They might have been politically unpopular conflicts — but the orders that came down to our young citizens were lawful.

I will continue to resist mightily the notion that our heroic military personnel died in vain. I know better than that. I only wish the critics of public policy decisions that produce misery and heartache would cease defaming the heroism of those who died in defense of the principle that grants citizens the right to complain about our government.

I join my social media acquaintance in wishing away the need to commemorate Memorial Day. But we cannot … as long as young men and women answer their nation’s call to arms.

Mayor Pete takes it straight to POTUS

Pete Buttigieg is stepping it up while touting his military, executive government and public service experience.

Consider what he said during a recent interview about Donald J. Trump’s “bone spur” medical deferment during the Vietnam War.

Buttigieg is one of more than 20 candidates running for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination. He said Trump used his family’s wealth and privilege to concoct the bone spur deferment that kept him out of the military during the height of that war.

“If he were a conscientious objector, I’d admire that,” Buttigieg said. “But this is somebody who, I think it’s fairly obvious to most of us, took advantage of the fact that he was the child of a multi-millionaire in order to pretend to be disabled so that somebody could go to war in his place.”

You go, Mayor Pete!

Indeed, Trump has managed — according to congressional testimony given by Michael Cohen, his former lawyer/friend/fixer — to insult millions of Americans who did serve in Vietnam. Cohen told the House Oversight Committee that Trump said, “Do you think I’m stupid? I wasn’t going to Vietnam.” Trump was trying at the time to hide the details of those medical deferments from the public.

So, only “stupid” Americans went to war in Vietnam? Is that what he said? Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. Call me “stupid.”

Buttigieg did volunteer for service in the Navy and did serve in Afghanistan. So, he does have more military experience than Trump. He also has said he has more military experience than any president since the late George H.W. Bush.

It remains an open question, of course, whether any of this will resonate with voters, who knew about Trump’s dubious deferment when he ran for president in 2016.

Still, I stand with Mayor Pete Buttigieg on this matter, that Trump used — and abused — his standing as a child of privilege when others of his generation found a way to thrust themselves into harm’s way.

Fly ‘commerical’ to Kabul? You bet, Mr. POTUS

Donald Trump’s decision to cancel the military flight for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a congressional delegation to Europe and Afghanistan was fraught with protocol breaches as well as a nonsensical travel recommendation.

The president responded to Pelosi’s request that he postpone the State of the Union speech until after the government is reopened. He acted petulantly by canceling the military air transport planned for the delegation; hey, he’s the commander in chief so he can do that sort of thing.

However, he blew Pelosi’s cover that she wanted to fly to Afghanistan to visit our troops, to show them her support for the work they are doing to keep us safe from international terrorists.

That was a violation of protocol. These flights into combat zones are kept secret for an obvious reason: to protect those who traveling their from possible attack from our enemies.

Oh, but then Trump offered this idiotic recommendation: Why not fly “commercially” to Afghanistan? What? Does he even know about how dangerous that would be? Moreover, is there even any commercial air travel to Afghanistan available?

The president’s bald-faced ignorance of so many aspects of government and history and protocol suggests to me that he fired off that response without giving any of a moment of thought.

Weird.

PR stunt? Of course it is! They all are!

Donald Trump canceled a trip overseas by Nancy Pelosi, contending that her visit to Afghanistan is a mere “public relations” event.

Wow! No sh**? Of course it was intended as a PR stunt. I mean, the speaker of the House wanted to visit with our troops who the commander in chief thrusts into harm’s way. She wanted to tell them the nation supports them and that despite the partial shutdown of the federal government that the politicians who run the government won’t let them down.

Sure it’s a PR event. However, there is inherint value in it.

It’s as much of a public relations production as the one that the president and first lady performed when they flew to Iraq right after Christmas. The president took selfies with troops, schmoozed with them, hugged their necks, told them he loved them. Then he and Melania flew back home to the chaos that awaited them.

Yeah, these trips are PR events. That’s what commanders in chief and other leading politicians do when they fly into combat zones.

I won’t get into the goofiness of Trump’s cancellation of the Pelosi venture, which looks for all the world to be a retaliatory strike in the wake of Pelosi’s request that Trump delay his scheduled Jan. 29 State of the Union speech before a joint congressional session.

However, for the president to say that the speaker of the House’s planned visit to our troops serves no useful purpose other than it being a PR stunt denies the obvious benefit it brings to the troops who get to see and talk directly to the politicians we elect to ostensibly “run the government.”

Trump lobs a grenade back at Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted to lead a congressional delegation to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It was supposed to be secret, in keeping with standard policy regarding official trips into a war zone.

Then the president of the United States, Donald Trump, pulled the plug on the trip. As commander in chief, he has the power to ground military aircraft for these congressional trips. So he did.

Then he released a letter to the public disclosing that Pelosi was going to Afghanistan, which flies directly in the face of normal protocol. The Pentagon, Congress and the White House don’t reveal in advance about trips into these combat zones.

As former Secretary of State John Kerry said via Twitter: The President of the United States just compared visiting our troops in a war zone to a “public relations event.” Another sad day for our nation when that’s how the Commander in Chief sees such a visit.

Kerry is correct to suggest that such trips aren’t just a “public relations event.” The speaker of the House, as the No.2-ranking official in line of presidential succession, reportedly was going to Afghanistan to speak to those troops, to tell them their country stands with them. It’s not just PR. It’s part of what members of Congress — as well as the president and Cabinet officials — do as part of their jobs.

Trump is trying to get Pelosi and other congressional leaders to negotiate an end to the partial government shutdown.

This back and forth is driving me batty. I want the shutdown ended, too. The men and women who have been furloughed and denied their income are suffering needlessly.

Pelosi wants Trump to delay his scheduled State of the Union speech. So what does Trump do in response? He blows the speaker’s cover by grounding a military jet that would have taken her potentially into harm’s way.

I’ve heard a term to describe this rhetorical exchange.

Sophomoric.

Trump demonstrates his unfitness yet again

As if we needed more examples from Donald Trump that illustrate his complete unfitness for the job he occupies . . . he offers up two more sparkling examples.

First, he declares that he might declare a “national emergency” to start construction on The Wall he wants to run along our southern border.

How does that work? The president signs an executive order and then re-distributes money intended for the Pentagon to build The Wall. The notion of declaring a national emergency based on “security” grounds raises the issue of its very legality.

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the authority to appropriate money. It allocates money to specific agencies for specific uses. A president who declares a national emergency appears to circumvent the Constitution. It well could be an illegal act.

Second, the president sat in that meeting room with Cabinet officials and defended the Soviet Union’s act of outright and naked aggression in 1979 when it invaded Afghanistan. His basis? Trump echoed the Kremlin pretext at the time that “terrorists” allegedly were attacking Soviet citizens across the border.

That is a blatant and disgraceful rewriting of history. The USSR invaded Afghanistan for the purpose of installing a friendly government in Kabul. It killed millions of Afghan citizens, forced millions more to flee, while suffering tens of thousands of battlefield casualties on its own.

For this president to say these things in the span of just a couple of days provided a breathtaking and astounding display of ignorance, arrogance and delusion.

I repeat what I’ve said all along: This individual is unfit at any level to occupy the office to which he was elected.

My fellow Americans, those of you who voted for this individual . . . you have made a terrible mistake.

POTUS takes on another general

Retired U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal is back in the news. This time it’s because he happened to say what many of us believe about the president, that he’s, um, a liar.

What is Donald Trump’s response? He fired off this tweet: “General” McChrystal got fired like a dog by Obama. Last assignment a total bust. Known for big, dumb mouth. Hillary lover!

Amazing, yes? Well, I think so.

Trump is right that President Obama relieved Gen. McChrystal of his command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal had been critical of Vice President Joe Biden and other civilian officials. Obama would have none of it, so he demanded McChrystal’s resignation.

Now, was his assignment a “total bust”? No. It wasn’t. Not at all.

However, the retired general has decided to re-enter the fray by questioning Donald Trump’s leadership ability. Given his experience at a high level of military command, he is qualified to discuss what he perceives in the commander in chief.

McChrystal has questioned Trump’s decision to militarize the southern U.S. border. He told an ABC News interviewer that he wouldn’t work in the Trump administration because he values honesty at the highest levels of government. He said the president doesn’t fit the bill. He also has spoken positively of Hillary Clinton’s service as secretary of state, which in Trump’s mind makes him a “Hillary lover” and, in his mind, not qualified to discuss anything of substance.

So, here we are . . . again! A president who pretends to respect military men and women is challenging another one who once served at the highest levels of command. Remember how he denigrated retired Admiral William McRaven for not killing Osama bin Laden sooner than he did? McRaven was special operations commander when the Navy SEAL team killed the al-Qaida leader on May 1, 2011.

Trump’s petulance knows no bounds. This thin-skinned chicken hawk should toughen up if he’s going to seek to be thought of as some sort of steel-spined world leader.

However, he won’t.

Trump ‘afraid’ to visit troops at war? Aw, c’mon!

Donald J. Trump has offered varying reasons for why he has yet to visit troops deployed in war zones.

He has too much to do at home. He’s too busy. He’s dealing with the so-called “witch hunt.” Then he said he doesn’t want the troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place.

Now comes a Washington Post item that suggests the president has a fear of harm that might come to him were he to venture into a war zone. As the Post reports: Trump has spoken privately about his fears over risks to his own life, according to a former senior White House official, who has discussed the issue with the president and spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about Trump’s concerns.

“He’s never been interested in going,” the official said of Trump visiting troops in a combat zone, citing conversations with the president. “He’s afraid of those situations. He’s afraid people want to kill him.”

Come on, will ya? Didn’t the president say he would be willing to rush into a school where a shooter was gunning down innocent victims? He said that after the Parkland, Fla., massacre.

Hey, the president is fearless. That’s what he has told us!

Happy birthday, America; you’re still great

Happy birthday, America.

You look pretty good for being 242 years of age. Allow me these brief thoughts as we light some fireworks, grill some chow outside in the summer heat and toast your ever-lasting and enduring greatness.

I want you to disregard the blathering of our current president, who campaigned for office and then took office vowing to “make America great again.” He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You’re still great. You’ve always been great.

And, yes, the 45th president isn’t the first occupant of that office to make such a claim. Others have done so. But this guy keeps harping on it. He wears that goofy “MAGA” hat at campaign rallies.

Now, even though we celebrate your greatness, America, I must concede that you haven’t been perfect. The founders said at the beginning of the Republic that “all men are created equal.”

They were short-sighted. Women weren’t allowed to vote. That right didn’t come until 1920, for crying out loud. Furthermore, many of the founders were slave holders. They held men, women and children in involuntary bondage.

You’ll recall, America, how we waged a bloody Civil War over slavery. We killed hundreds of thousands of Americans to preserve our Union and, yes, to free those enslaved families.

Civil rights battles have ensued. We marched in protest against wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. We endured a Great Depression. We were attacked at Pearl Harbor and then we went to war against tyranny in Europe and Asia.

We let our guard down on 9/11 and were attacked yet again by terrorists.

In spite of all that, we remain great. We allow people to complain openly about the government. We allow freedoms that other countries have emulated. We are free to worship as we please — or not worship at all if that’s what we choose.

We allow “due process” under the law. We grant liberty and freedom.

And despite what that president of ours insists, we remain a beacon that attracts immigrants from those around the world.

I am proud to be an American. I am proud of my country, warts and all. Believe me, America, you’ve grown a few more of them in recent years. However, I salute you.

Let’s all have a happy birthday, America.